Friday, November 19, 2010

a series designed to break your heart.

This is typical but I feel like I have to warn you or give you a disclaimer. I love art, artists, talking about art, making art, selling art, etc etc.. If you know me at all, you know this is true.

But for this blog, I have to vent a bit. There are a several cool things going on in my art world right now, so I am not complaining and I know I am lucky etc etc..(see, more disclaimers) but right now I just have to express my complete and utter frustration in my lack at being able to paint. I mean, I really can not paint right now. It is like that part of my brain has slipped far away...

This is not the first time this has happened, more like the fifth or sixth... or perhaps this is the eighteenth time. I don't really know and it shouldn't come as a surprise or warrant a blog post but I feel if I don't write about the frustration of it all, I won't move past it. This is typical for me and for a lot of other artists. I just had a show. I worked almost all year on that show. That show is still on display and my studio is feeling a bit lonely- it misses the new white series, the hum of activity, the burst of inspiration and the direction that only a series can bring.

I spent some time looking at my paintings in the gallery the other day and I wanted to cry. I looked at them closely and I wondered if other people looked at them as closely and I wondered what the experience would be like for a stranger to look at them for the first time. Then I felt like I was a stranger. It just didn't feel possible that I could have painted those paintings. I could barely remember the sensation of the brush hitting the canvas, or the flicks of water that beaded up on the oiled surface. I couldn't remember the sound of that water running down the painting onto my paint encrusted easel and the onto the floor and then pooling below staining the concrete. I can tell the story but I can't remember the sensation. I remember jumping up and down in front of my easel. I remember screaming, singing, dancing, crying, writing the flurry of words that would burst into my head as I applied the paint. I would have to quickly scrawl them on my studio wall. Those words became titles and concepts and are woven throughout the white series and became A Manual for Living. I remember shaking and running down the hall to get my studio mate to see something new that I was unsure of. I remember taking snapshots and sharing them with my online studio mates across the ocean. I remember questioning and doubting, and then I remember things being revealed. Suddenly, the path clearly lit for a second and then pushing through to actualize the painting.

I want that all back. I want that back now, I want to get back there! When I stand in front of my easel now, there is nothing. There is no story, no longing, no expression, it feels like repetition, it feels like being born but all my dreams and talent are gone, it feels like a void, a deep absence.

I know I want it too much, and that I am holding on too tight, I can't go back. I know all this. I know this is just the customary post show blues. I know this is fear talking. On my studio wall, more scrawled words, "There is no room for fear in art"- those words emerged while working on one of the last massive pieces in the series.

The other day in an inspired flash, I had an idea for a new series of paintings, it would be called "a series designed to break your heart..."

I think I may have already painted it and I broke my own in the process...

Until next week keep fighting, and I will do the same.
This week.. leave a comment and be entered to win a 9x 12" paper painting. Yes, really. I will draw one random winner and announce the winner next week.


  1. It will come back... it will come back... patience, patience, patience (I know, I'm not very good at patience, either).

    PS. Great new series title. You should run with that one!

  2. As of late I have found myself unable to make any meaningful photographs. I'm unable at this point in time to finish my last remaining year at art school. The buzz of inspiration I felt while I was there has escaped me, and I worry that I'll never have it again. All I can do at this point is have faith that inspiration will come again, and I hope you too can hold on to that faith.

  3. I suggest you borrow my Antony and the Johnsons cd, listen to it alone, feel the feelings, see where it takes you on your art journey. Seems like you are having a sort of reverse ptsd event. As you know, this too shall pass.

    Hell, maybe all you need to do is put the canvas on the floor, put a brush with some paint on it in your mouth, stand on your head against the wall and smoosh the brush around some.

    For drumming, when I get in a rut, I back away. When I come back to it, I start doing stuff all wrong again and that's when I advance the most.

    For gardening, I almost always ignore the experts and try stuff out most people say will not work. It has worked every single time.

    Let's hang out soon and fsu!


  4. I do understand -- and take heart, because yes, you'll paint again. And be sure to get my name in the hat ;) --sj

  5. Wow, Megan. You're such a good writer--that fourth paragraph is so good. I hope that you pull out of your funk and get going with whatever is next. There's always something coming.

  6. I say force yourself to NOT paint. this can be a rewarding time, as if you're creating a tabula rasa for yourself so you can begin again. you're still reeling from your recent experience and that will only inspire you to feel that good again, which is not where new work is going to come from. go out, do other things and let your brain tell you when you have something you have to paint. That's my two cents!

  7. Lovely Megan - venting is good. You are also a good writer - honest and sharing. Don't forget that the moment and the feeling is in the paintings themselves - frozen in time. Somehow the viewer sees and feels it in their own way. I look at my best recent paintings and also can't remember things about the creating of it and sometimes can't believe I even painted it. Bizarre, but reassuring because that is one of the wonderful mysteries and unpredictabilities surrounding art-making.
    Embrace the moment, journal it and PLEASE go with the new title - I love it!

  8. It is an awful feeling, a psychic amputation. I get it with writing.

    Your blips, though, have been stunning. I think your creativity is playing tricks on you, hiding out and metamorphosing, it needs a while with your whole world to ramble through.

  9. Megan your post speaks to the soul all artists. I have felt this paralyzation lately. I tell myself every day I am going to paint and then nothing. I am overwhelmed by the outside influences, intimidated by the greatness of other artists. I think perhaps it is time to disconnect from the internet and other infulences. Take long walks deep breaths, mend your heart with little joys, paint for your soul.

  10. Oh, I hear you. It's a very frustrating thing to be experiencing. I feel for you too, and hope you find a way through this dry spell without too much angst. I guess it's part of the human condition to have periods of great energy and creativity followed by times when we recharge and refuel for the next onslaught.

    When you first started writing, all those qualifiers, warnings and disclaimers had me thinking you were about to rant against the art community or the patrons or ?? I had no idea it was your own frustration that you were about to launch into an attack on.

    Sending good vibes. I hope they help...

  11. My first efforts to comment appear to be lost. Here is its abreviation...

    But don't you need that blank canvas time too? Painful as it is? I don't know about the go-and-go-and-expire-when-the-spring-wears-out approach to creativity. Or life. Can you follow the undulations, the frenzy and sleeplessness followed by that sink into a deep, still pond...regeneration?

  12. oh God I am there too.....I like your insight...never really thought of it as "post show blues" before.
    Im looking forward to the excitement coming back too

  13. It's great that you are on another purple patch, your effort, talent and commitment deserve it. A wee bit of karma as well for helping the wee guy. There seems to be some critical mass building up in your career, you have to keep at it though....stay frosty. Glad there is some cash coming in as well; starving artists are just so passe. Have a good night y'awl.....

    If I win I promise I'll blip it and I'll hang it high enough that my kids will have to be 15 before they can defile it with crayons.

  14. Andy (not shopping)November 20, 2010 at 9:21 PM

    I can't believe I had to use the google account that I have for bloody shopping to post to you. Bollocks to this I need a new google account or something. Oh by the way nerd? I have a science degree and like prog rock.....ok get get now.....

  15. Why don't you take a vacation.... even near your own town... take a bus or train somewhere, stay in a hotel one night, eat in a strange restaurant, look in their shops and galleries or museums, and 'cleanse the palate' so to speak. You've emptied the well and are stressed you can't find water? You need to allow the stores to refill, which they will, and do something bizarrely different in the meantime.

  16. Since I have the privilege of being your studio mate, I know firsthand how deeply you worked on each piece of the White Series. Consciously, unconsciously, your heart, your soul, it's all there on the canvas. I am not surprised by this time of calm, it seems natural that you would take time to rest and restore your inner resources. I wish you peace, my friend. (And I can't wait to see what's next!)

  17. This is a really powerful entry, perhaps more so because it came like 10 minutes after a "oh hey I guess I better blog" Facebook update. I found it just devastating to read.

    Personally, I work off momentum, so it's hard to get going whenever things are too still, and hard to stop when I'm going at a good clip. I need the pressure of a deadline to force myself to get enough of a head of steam to take me through the tough projects. When I finish a project, I'm exhausted, but also sated, and it feels good to relax and let it go. But before I know it, I'm feeling lazy. For me, the knowledge of the cycle helps me break it, but it's not always enough.

  18. It seems to be natural to have a blankness after working so hard on a show. I agree that it might be a good idea to focus inwardly -- but on nothing specific -- and don't get distracted by the internets and frenzy of the world around you. Everything will come in time, just like it's meant to. Keep writing, keep thinking, keep imagining.

  19. I cried for you, but also in my heart I know that you are just building to the next crescendo, and are only down in the lull before the next creative storm...Thank you for sharing...xx..julia